News Articles

H.A.L. to rerun historic trans-Atlantic crossings in 2011

Sailings mark 1971 demise of line service

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SEATTLE – Cruise ship operator Holland America Line has scheduled two nostalgic trans-Atlantic crossings next summer, following its historic itinerary from Rotterdam to New York City. Originally named Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij, H.A.L. launched its trans-Atlantic service from Rotterdam to New York in 1872. Hundreds of thousands of European immigrants arrived in the United States with H.A.L. ships in the 19th and in the early decades of the 20th century.

Holland America Line last offered a classic trans-Atlantic crossing in 1971. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the demise of this all-important trans-Atlantic 'highway' and people mover, the firm has scheduled two commemorative crossings for 2011. Another cruise company, U.K.-based Cunard Line, continues to offers regular crossings with its ship the Queen Mary 2.


The trans-Atlantic voyages were the key to Holland America Line's financial wellbeing for several decades. As a people mover, the firm played a significant role in U.S. immigration history and in Dutch maritime history, providing numerous people jobs aboard the liners and at home in its corporate infrastructure. Many more people gained employment with H.A.L. suppliers. The appeal for H.A.L.'s services remains as is evident from the keen level of interest in a range of souvenir and collectors' items such as postcards, menus and other memorabilia.

According Holland America Cruises' officials there is still a strong desire from many of today’s travelers to step back in time and relive the celebrated days of an elegant crossing or to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. Holland America wants to share its heritage with passengers by scheduling these two special itineraries.

In its trans-Atlantic heyday, H.A.L. offered different levels of service to passengers. The current itinerary definitely is focusing on its former first class passenger service. Most European immigrants who were looking for better opportunities likely opted for economy priced passage and stayed in the holds.


Rotterdam’s nine-day trans-Atlantic sailing departs from Rotterdam on July 3, 2011, and calls at the traditional crossing departure port of Southampton, England, before heading to New York. The July 12 trans-Atlantic departure returns to Rotterdam from New York over nine leisurely days with a call at Cobh (Cork), Ireland, another time-honored stop on crossings of the past.

The line says the voyages will include nostalgia-themed dinner menus and entertainment, special guest lectures, and the presence of a temporary “museum at sea,” among other crossing-related features.

Anyone interested in reading more about H.A.L.'s history may want to order Cees Zevenbergen's richly illustrated Dutch-lanuage book Toen zij uit Rotterdam vertrokken, Emigratie via Rotterdam door de eeuwen heen (available from Vanderheide Publishing, id #861).